The project began when Dr. Maleshoane Rapeane-Mathonsi (DUT FAD’s Research Officer) attended the 2016 South African Technology Network (SATN) conference in Cape Town and engaged with Ms. Kirstin Wiedow, a delegate who represented the FABlab Design and Technology Centre affiliated with the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). In 2017, and subsequent to this meeting, the Durban University of Technology (DUT) partnered with the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in a multidisciplinary student exchange pilot to boost innovative product development across study fields towards student entrepreneurial venture development between Durban and Windhoek. The objective of this collaboration was to promote international cooperation and foster international development in the higher education staff and student experience. The project that emerged out of this engagement was across two SADC region countries where students across borders and disciplines collaborated for a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary experience.
In 2017, the project operated under the name ‘Polar Project’ and engaged undergraduate students in the ICT and Engineering Faculty at NUST (Software and Engineering), and both under- and postgraduate students from the Faculty of Arts and Design at DUT (Fashion, Interior and Jewellery). The students worked as a team to develop a project, that addressed their identified challenge, fused all their fields and culminated in the prototype development of an innovative product which they called a ‘Learning Capsule’ affectionately known as EKO. The students were required to spend two weeks in both locations and work remotely on the project during on-site visits. The project is now in its final stage of completion and will be showcased at the Faculty of Arts and Design’s (FAD) Digifest 2017 and refined further for ISEA 2018.
The Polar Project has created a niche focus area under the DUT’s 2-4-6 element structure and situates itself under Strategic Focus Area 2 (Building research and innovation for development) guided by the actionable strategic objective: “deepen the University’s engagement through dynamic dialogue and interfaces at local, regional, national and global levels and through sustainable innovative and entrepreneurial platforms for research and innovation”
To find out more about this project download our CASE FOR SUPPORT booklet.